Read a lot of reviews about the Carnival Dream before I took the Cruise which helped me a lot, now it's pay back time :) The review will be lengthy as I am trying to capture my wonderful memories.
Reaching the Port:
Got off at Orlando airport and took "Cocoa beach" shuttle. We are a party of 3 and it costed us around $62(after 10% discount since I mentioned Cruise critic while booking :).
As a first time Cruiser, I had no idea what embarkation is like and I really enjoyed each bit(checking in luggage,getting state room keys, taking photographs on the way into ship) of it. The entire process took around 1/2 hr and we are in our rooms by 1:30 PM.If any one is surprising where to drop the luggage, there will be porters outside as soon as you got off the shuttle,with whom you drop the luggage.You can then just walk in with your passports. However, I would suggest to keep some important items with you as the luggage will come anywhere from 3 to 6 hrs after you boarded the ship.Our luggage came around 6:00 PM. I was eagerly waiting for the ship to leave and got super excited when the ship finally left at 8:00 PM.
We booked a balcony on floor 7th. I read lot of reviews and as all other say floor 7 is the best floor on the Dream. Not too low towards the water, and under floor 8 which is filled with staterooms so no noise from upstairs.
There are 2 chairs in the balcony, you can just sit on them and spend the whole day relaxing looking at the endless ocean.What a felling !!!
There are closets available in the stateroom, we unloaded everything from our bags and put them into the closets and pushed the bags underneath the bed which gives lot of space to move around with out tripping on the bags :)
Rooms are cleaned twice a day, morning and evening. I challenge you to catch the crew cleaning your room while cleaning :). You just cannot figure out when they came and cleaned the room.You might have gone to breakfast for 15 mins, by the time you are back, the room is cleaned and ready for use.Stateroom crew, take a bow, I just could not figure out how you do it.
There are a number of activities to do on the ship like swimming,mini golf,water slides,basket ball court etc.The pool theater is very nice, watched JellyStone movie relaxing on the pool chair with cool breeze blowing in.Just loved that experience.Serenety area is awesome. Me and wife thoroughly enjoyed it. Did lot of shopping on the cruise(cheap $$), posed for plenty of photos at the photo studios available through out the ship for free. Ofcourse, bought the ones which we liked :)
By the way, stateroom crew will leave a booklet every night in your cabin, which explains the activities going on for the next day, I just could not believe there are so many activities going on with out any break through out the day.
The biggest surprise for me is the day care(Camp Carnival) available on the ship for free!!!. They have divided children into different age groups and have activities for them based on their age group. This camp is open from 7:00 Am till 9:00 PM. To top it off, they have extended day care called night owls which run from 9:00 pm till 3:00 AM. However, for night owls they charge $6 per hr which I feel is very reasonable.My son who is 5, totally loved the camp.
Food is awesome, there are so many choices, you will just confused :). Out of all, Mangolian is the best. We loved the pastries as well.
Break fast is served from 6:00 AM till 12:00 Noon, Lunch from 12:00 Noon to 3:30 and dinner from 6:00 to 9:30. apart from these, they have 24 hr Pizza bar and ice cream shop for absolutely free. We were seated in Scarllet dining room which is an absolute stunner!. They have many choices for dinner and the menu is changed every day.I recommend you to taste chocolate vanilla ice cream it is mind blowing. If you don't want to go to dining room, you can have the dinner from Lido deck which is a buffet kind of style. By the way, once You finish your lunch or dinner on Lido deck, you don't need to take the empty plate away, just leave it there on the table and it will be cleaned in seconds.
Juices,water and coffee is free.However if you want to buy mineral water there is a charge for it, but you don't need to buy Mineral water.The surprising thing is, margaritas are pretty cheap. For $7, I get a very nice Margarita cheaper than many of the restaurants I went to.
Shows are ok, not up to our expectations. May be, our expectations are too high after seeing lot of shows in Vegas ? :( The theater where the shows are performed is pretty good.you will be stunned to see such a huge theater on a cruise ship. Laser show is a total waste, I cannot believe they spent millions for a crapy laser show.
Nassau: We did Discover Atlantic(booked thru carnival) in this port. A big disappointment. I would not recommend this to any one.
St Thomas:We did Coral World and Coki beach trip (thru cheapcruises.com) in the morning. Both of them are right next to each other. So if you take any one of them, you can see the other. Coral world is a big disappointment. After watching Monterey Bay aquarium, Coral world looks like an infant.Coki beach is very crowded, but crystal clear waters. After that, we went to Megan's beach. A wonderful beach and a must do for any one. It is so wonderful, we just relaxed there for 4 hrs or so. There are taxis which take you to Megan's bay beach from Port for $8 per head.
St Martin: We took snail,snorkel and shopping trip (thru carnival)The sail and snorkel were ok, not great. They give free rum punch and snacks on this ship.
After snorkeling, we went for beach and shopping.Rented a beach side Chair and Umbrella for $15. Beach itself is crowded, but the water has different shades from green to blue which I was expecting and missing in the other 2 ports. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful waters.There are some food shops on the beach side who serve the food right to your chair.
This is the worst day on the entire cruise, not that anything is bad,just because we have leave the wonderful dream ship and back to our normal lives :(.
The debarkation process is very simple, we were out by 9:00 AM.Rented a car one way to airport for $30 from enterprise, much cheaper than the shuttle we took while coming into the port.
I didn't feel uncomfortable with 4000 people on board, pools are crowded, but if you go during off peak time you can enjoy the pool.I didn't smell the dreaded smell which other reviewers complained about.My only disappointment is the shows.
I thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and cannot wait to take my next cruise. Carnival crew did a fantastic job to make my cruise a memorable one and make me a cruise addict.
With this, I am signing off.